Saturday, October 30, 2010

Student Saturday - Visual

Students at TraillWorks have been busy since my last Student Saturday post back in July - I'm so sorry! Time goes when you're creating and teaching. So I'm going to give you a lot to look at and a brief summary of the work. In my next Student Saturday post, I'll be writing about some exciting upcoming, community-based holiday projects most of my students are working on. 

Turtle, Ceramic with Rub n' Buff, by Jesse Sparling
Elephant, Ceramic with Rub n' Buff, Niki Manning

Platypus, Ceramic with Rub n' Buff, Hannah Manning

Examples of carved animals created through subtractive sculpting (students begin with a brick of clay and then carve away to allow the form to emerge). Subtractive sculpting was the method used by Michelangelo to carve the David, among other works. These sculptures were loosely inspired by stylized Zuni carvings, but then finished with metallic Rub n' Buff paints. 

Castle of Sisterhood, Mixed Media, Taige Kellenberger

The Sisters' Fantasy Tree, Mixed Media, Baily Kellenberger

The two drawings above began as an architecture project. The students looked at architectural flash cards featuring Greek / Roman conventions. They then used individual forms to create their own unique, modern architectural design. Use of space was important to consider, both girls above created spaces that they might play in with their sisters. The drawings were started in pencil, colored in India ink pens and watercolor washes, and then the backgrounds painted in gold tempera. 

Untitled, Acrylic and Collage on Illustration Board, Julia Young, Age 9
Cow Collage, Acrylic Collage, Rachel Young, Age 7

The Young sisters worked on the above paintings over the course of several months, started when I was still at 135 Spring Street. They took some time off and then re-enrolled after my relocation and finished these pieces over the summer. These were the girls' first experiences painting in acrylic. Rather than paint the backgrounds, they both chose to collage using silk-screened and rice papers.

Lamp Post, Pen on Paper, Will Somma, Age 10

This drawing was the first piece that Will did with me since his return to TraillWorks this summer. I've been teaching Will off and on since he was five years old when I was teaching in my home studio. For this piece, Will worked on several sequential timed sketches, starting with a few two-minute drawings, and then working up to 5 and 10-minutes. After he drew the final full-length drawing, I suggested that he take elements of the lamppost and extend it out into the paper, creating an interesting stylization and abstraction. The piece is finished with India ink pens and colored pencils. He's come a long way since we first started together!

Gumby, Acrylic on Board, 15" x 20", June Nezamis, Adult

Trolls, Acrylic on Illustration Board, 15" x 15", Phoebe Nezamis, Age 15

All Interlocked, Acrylic on Board, 15" x 20", Phillip Nezamis, Age 12

The Nezamis family finished these design paintings a few months ago. Working with a single subject matter, they had to create a unified design incorporating overlapping, scale, repetition, variety, emphasis, movement, pretty much using all of the elements and principles of design. Once they came up with a design, color was chosen by picking a specific color scheme. This was their first exposure to color mixing. We worked with Liquitex Matt Basics acrylics, which act similarly to gouache, but are much easier to work with.

Stone Castle Cake, Watercolor and Colored Pencil, Noa Shaw, Age 9

You know of my interest in cakes. So many of my students have created 2-D watercolor concept drawings for cake designs. This was a birthday cake designed by Noa with the theme of castles. After looking at many cake designs by famed cake bakers, he researched castle pictures, and focused on their texture and architectural features to achieve this interesting design. The finished drawing features watercolor washes, ink pens, and graphite.  

Untitled, Pastel and Marker, Ava Grace Levin, Age 6

Here's a new twist on Harry the duck by new student Ava Levin. If you look close you should be able to find some Harrys in there. Ava decided to finish the drawing by using farm buildings and machinery. A nice ode to Sussex County!

The Lion and the Unicorn, Mixed Media Relief, Miles Shaw, Age 7

After reading a Mother Goose nursery rhyme book, Miles chose one about a lion and a unicorn battling over a town. He illustrated the nursery rhyme by creating a relief sculpture from foam core, Styrofoam, packing peanuts, and white cording. He had to utilize the principles and elements of design to visually convey his illustration and build up enough of a relief to create contrast so the forms are visible in all white. 

Percolator, Charcoal on Ingres, Hannah Manning, Age 10

Glass Pitcher, Charcoal on Ingres, Jesse Sparling, Age 13

Glass Pitcher, Charcoal on Ingres, Niki Manning, Age 12
Lastly, more work by Jesse Sparling, and the Manning sisters. The girls chose an object in the studio from which to draw. Using vine charcoal, compressed charcoal and charcoal pencils, they drew from observation and focused on shading values, pulling out highlights with a kneaded eraser. 

Bravo everyone! I'm always so excited by what is achieved and created by my students at TraillWorks. So much interesting stuff is going on now. So check in soon for another Student Saturday to find out what's going on in the lesson studio.   

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inside My Studio - Teacups, Aprons, and Hoosiers

Palette table, oil paints, and reference pictures of teacups for an upcoming commission in my studio.

I've been hearing it from Corrie for awhile, "where's news about your own work?" Hmmm, I am working on my own work, but between my husband's new job and traveling responsibilities, caring for my son who is now verging on the fabulous age of two (enough said), and taking care of me (which I'm learning takes precedence over everything), I haven't had much of an opportunity to share what's going on in my own studio! So I'm going to write a few posts in the next week about commissions and pieces that I'm working on.

Towards the end of the summer, I booked three Christmas commissions and am continuing work on one that has been slowly progressing since the beginning of the year. No worries, the client keeps telling me "piano, piano". (She's Italian.) All of them deal with memories, involve food, or food preparation. However, the two I'm featuring today focus solely in the home domain and are related more to food prep and containing food, whereas the other two are about food.

The first commission is a gift from one of my adult students and her two sisters to their mom for Christmas. Her mom has a collection of prized teacups, and was, and still is an apron-wearer. My student actually stole her threadbare, everyday apron, and the lavender gingham and organza seen below, and shot several photos from a variety of angles of three selected teacups.  

We decided on a series of three panels, 10" x 10" each, on which to create an homage to the three teacups, somehow incorporating her aprons. I'm so glad with the selection of teacups that June made, and I found that the lavender and gingham worked so well to tie all three together. After several different sketches, I came up with the one below arranging the teacups in a more dynamic, asymmetrical composition, playing with different points of view, all featured on the organza apron. I still have some things to work out, which I will do once I start painting, but she was thrilled with the overall gist. I'll be starting this painting in November, as I'm still working on preliminary sketches of other commissions.

My client's mothers' apron (lavender gingham trim with organza body). Mom doesn't know I have it!




Selected composition for three-paneled painting featuring my client's mother's teacups and apron.

The second commission was begun back in February, but actually was implanted in my studio two and a half years ago when my client brought me her grandmother's sugar bowl in a Styrofoam box and pink gift bag to my grand opening celebration at my old location. She told me her idea then, "Sweet Memories" featuring the sugar bowl. Then stuff happened in her life, and mine, and she's just simply fantastic. I actually hadn't communicated much with her during 2009, and then I moved to 214 Spring and we got in touch again. 

After sitting down over a glass of wine, we came up with the start of a painting that is still evolving and now much closer to inception. Initially, the painting was to simply be the sugar bowl, but after seeing some of my larger works composing many aspects together, my client wanted to include the red Cosco stool I own, and her grandmother's apron. Well, the first round of sketches weren't happening, I was too tied to some of my previous paintings. Then, when we discussed some of the problems, my client suggested adding in her grandmother's Hoosier cabinet. I thought, well, that's just going to add in more complications. Well, it actually enabled me to shift my thinking and come up with a more interesting composition. 

The first sketch shows the Hoosier on the left, with the percolator on the shelf, the sugar bowl on the stool, and a tile floor extending out into a fantasy space with a manikin wearing her grandmother's apron. This goes back to a painting I did in college of my parents where space between the interior and exterior blends together. 

After meeting and reviewing this idea a couple of weeks ago, my client decided, and I think rightfully so, given the proportions of the canvas, that the apron is too much. Now we're moving towards no apron, a window in the background to open up the composition, flooding in light (much like her memories of her grandmother's kitchen), and moving the sugar bowl to a shelf over the window. I still need to work a bit more on the latest sketch before I present it to her, but this is where I'm at now. 

My client's stove top percolator and her Grandmother's sugar bowl on a shelf in my studio.

My client's grandmother's Hoosier cabinet.

2nd round of sketches incorporating the Hoosier, percolator, sugar bowl, and apron.

3rd round of sketches adding a window element and moving the sugar bowl to a shelf.

Catch me later this week in my studio with progress on my other two commissions - a visual homage to an eating tour in Italy and a tile design for installation in a client's kitchen / bar area.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Remembering a Friend and Artist

Artist, Tony Lordi
I came to the studio Friday to hear the sad news of the passing of Tony Lordi. As I wrote this I was still in a state of shock and sadness. It is my hope through writing this to honor and remember a person who has meant a great deal to me both personally and artistically.

In 2005 I moved with my husband to Sussex County, a place where we knew no one, had no roots. I had just started my business as an artist and immediately got myself involved in the county's fledgling art scene. After becoming a member and getting involved in the Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council, the director of the council then, Linda Hirsch, introduced me to Tony Lordi. He was this artist and gallery owner in Lafayette. She thought he might be able to use my help to gallery sit.

We met, he signed me up to sit, and I was indoctrinated into the world of Tony Lordi. I was excited at the prospect, even more so after learning that one of his well-known "Empires" was featured in my college art history text, "Varieties of Visual Experience". But, I was intimidated, too. Tony was smart, had what seemed more energy at his age than I've ever seemed to possess. He lived, breathed, and loved art and music. But he loved life, too.
I sat at Art at the Mill, learned about running a gallery, and got to know Tony. He was hands-on, always stopping in to say hello, chat, and was always inquiring about my artwork. I eventually showed him some of my stuff, and he loved it. Within no time I was exhibiting my artwork at the gallery. I attribute Tony with being the one who really jump-started my exhibition career. He encouraged me, supported me, and made me want to make work. Tony in the past even offered to drive my entries into NYC for an annual show at NYU that he encouraged me to participate in (I got acceptances 2 of the 3 years I entered).

Chrome Boy with Big Ears, this was part of the promo materials from Kitchen Kitsch, a joint show between Tony and Me in 2008 at TraillWorks. When I saw the Chrome Boy, I thought there was a fun likeness to Tony an used it as a portrait of him to represent his work for the show. Tony thought it was great, and encouraged me to use it.

When I eventually made the decision to rent my own studio, he was gung-ho for it. I enjoyed his almost-weekly visits, chats, and criticism at my new place. I began inviting a few artists to exhibit with me on occasion and I had the honor of showing his work beside mine in 2008 for a Tour of Art in Newton. His agreement to do the show with me was flattering and cemented for me that he viewed me as an equal. We titled the show Kitchen Kitsch; featuring my Appliance Portraits and his Vintage Chrome Appliance sculptures. Our work together drew so much attention to the gallery!

Installation of Vintage Chrome Appliances at TraillWorks in 2008, all sculptures © Tony Lordi

Steam Heat, vintage irons and ironing board, © Tony Lordi

My last, fondest memory of Tony is when I relocated my studio earlier this year. I was still getting my new place ready and he stopped by for a visit, while driving his red Empire around town to take pictures for a book project he was working on. I jumped on the opportunity, learning from Tony, and invited him to bring it in and take pictures of it at TraillWorks. We had an impromptu studio shoot, Ringo on hand and in photos. He was so full of life, excitement. I don't recall what we talked about but I will cherish that day as it was one of the last great memories of Tony; breezing in and out with his art.

Red Empire, ©2010 Tony Lordi
I think what I loved best about Tony was his joie de vivre, and his ability to embrace you, teach you, and all the while never look down on you. In the five years that I knew Tony Lordi, I have probably grown ten years, in large part to his influence. Tony, you will be deeply missed, but I know that you will not leave the hearts and fortunately, the eyes, of many.